Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 24 March 2015
All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions. Where there is a link to a newspaper’s website, the relevant page reference is highlighted and underlined.
David Cameron: David Cameron announced yesterday in a broadcast interview that he would not be seeking a third term, leading to speculation about who would replace him when he steps down. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Times page 1, Telegraph page 1, Daily Express page 2, Financial Times page 1, Daily Mail page 1, Guardian page 1)
Meanwhile Mr Cameron’s detractors have accused him of diverting the public’s attention from the General Election, and the policy issues that should be discussed, with the Labour party branding him ‘arrogant’ by taking voters for granted, given he has yet to win a second term in power.
Labour/SNP deal: Ed Miliband said yesterday on a trip to Scotland that Alex Salmond will not hold sway over a minority government and ruled out the possibility that he would be writing a Labour Budget (Scotsman page 4, Times page 8, Telegraph page 4, Daily Record page 9, Daily Express page 1, Press & Journal page 14, Courier page 16)
Meanwhile, The National, the Herald and the Daily Mail report that Ed Miliband has claimed the SNP are in an unholy alliance with the Tories, that intends to prevent his party from taking power (page 1, page 6, page 4)
Iain Macwhirter in the Herald comments that if the SNP win a landslide in Scotland it is down to Westminster’s culture of sleaze, in light of stories in recent weeks regarding the misconduct of MPs across all parties. (Herald page 15)
Danny Alexander: The Financial Times reports on the fight for Danny Alexander’s Inverness seat, reporting that support for the Liberal Democrat minister is collapsing with the Lib Dems reportedly 29 points behind the SNP (page 2)
Opinion poll: A new poll revealed yesterday that Scottish Labour had not improved its position in the polls since Jim Murphy had taken the leadership of the party, suggesting that Mr Murphy is no more effective at winning votes than his predecessor Johann Lamont (National page 3), with the Guardian reporting that Labour could face a ‘Scottish wipeout’, according to recent estimates by Professor John Curtice (Guardian page 9)
Labour whistleblower: Scottish Labour is reportedly facing a crisis in its heartlands as former Labour Councillor Tommy Morgan is threatening a petition for judicial review, following his sacking for allegedly whistle blowing on a multi-million pound housing repairs contract (Herald page 1)
Devolution: A parliamentary committee has raised deep concerns that the next wave of devolution to Scotland will destabilise the rest of the UK, making claims that the Smith Commission was rushed through with insufficient consultation (Scotsman page 4, National page 5, Press & Journal page 9)
Party Funding: An investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches programme has revealed how close major donors get to the leaders of the main political parties with a former sleaze watchdog calling certain party fundraising activities potentially ‘unlawful’ (Scotsman page 4)
Civil Servant impartiality: Alex Salmond has made a repeated call for the resignation of top Treasury civil servant Sir Nicholas Macpherson over a lack of impartiality, following the publishing of a report that criticised SNP plans for a currency union during the referendum campaign (Times page 2)
Peter Jones in the Scotsman comments that Scotland should ‘dump fiscal autonomy’, calling it insanity as the price of oil plunges (Scotsman page 21)
Longannet power: Bosses at Longannet coal-fired power station in Fife ended months of speculation about its future yesterday by announcing it is likely to close within a year, after losing a key national-grid contract, putting 1,000 highly skilled jobs into jeopardy and leading to emergency talks being held last night between energy minister Fergus Ewing and operator Scottish Power (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 7, National page 4, Telegraph page 9, The Sun page 2, Daily Express page 2).
Meanwhile, the Times reports that both the Conservatives and Labour claim that the SNP’s obsession with renewables and its energy policy heavily weighted on wind power, helped seal the fate of the power station (Times page 1).
Highland City Deal: A £3m deal has been unveiled by the Treasury for projects in Inverness as part of a new City Deal for the capital of the Highlands (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 2)
Drink-Drive Limit: The reduction in the drink-drive limit has been highlighted as a key factor in the stagnation of the Scottish economy during the latest three months by Bank of Scotland chief economist Donald MacRae when he presented the findings of the latest quarterly business monitor (Herald page 1)
VAT rise: Ed Balls will announce today that a future Labour Government will not raise VAT, a move which Labour claim is likely to hit the poor and the elderly the most, with the Conservatives not yet ruling this out (Herald page 6, Times page 9)
Benefit Sanctions: MPs from the Work and Pensions Committee, led by Scots MP Dame Ann Begg, have called for a full independent review of Iain Duncan Smith’s benefit sanctions regimes in the next parliament amid growing fears about their impact on vulnerable claimants (National page 10, Herald page 2)
Heathrow: London’s busiest airport has vowed to serve Scotland better, if their ambitious expansion plans are to be approved, in a move that could be worth millions of pounds to the Scottish economy and lead to lower ticket prices by increasing daily flights between Scotland and London (Times page 16)
Bed blocking reduced: Health Secretary Shona Robison has claimed that patients having to wait longer than the target time to be discharged from hospital are dropping due to the integration of health and social care, with evidence on the ground suggesting progress is being made (Herald page 2)
Better care campaign: The body which represents A&E doctors has launched a campaign aimed at improving the quality and safety of emergency care in Scotland’s NHS, outlining a series of measures to address the problems facing A&E departments across the country (Herald page 8, Times page 20)
Scottish Congestion Charge: A recent report into carbon emissions by the Committee on Climate change suggests that Scotland should follow London by introducing a congestion charge to help meet its climate change targets in areas such as transport, renewable heat, agriculture, and forestry. The report also warns that plans to cut air passenger duty by 50 per cent when it is devolved to Holyrood could lead to increased carbon emissions (Herald page 4, Courier page 16)